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Modal Jazz and Miles Davis: George Russell’s Influence and the Melodic Inspiration behind Modal Jazz

September 2, 2012

“Kind of Blue is the best-selling jazz record of all time, and yet
few listeners grasp the meaning of the album—or of Miles
Davis’s vision of modal jazz. Its release in 1959 revealed
modality as an entirely new creative tool that gave musicians
unprecedented latitude in developing improvised solos.  While
most references define the style in terms of static harmonies, a
more thorough analysis reveals that Davis founded modal jazz
on the underlying goal of melodic freedom. Modal composition
relaxed the harmonic constraints that had previously forced
players into creating formulaic solos; it also introduced a new
degree of rhythmic flexibility that permitted improvisers to
think more melodically. Combined with the freedom to choose
from a wider range of notes, these factors made modal jazz the
perfect environment for melodic inventiveness.“



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